Nurses Week is a celebration of the effect of these healthcare professionals on the lives of their patients, and by extension, the community.
This year’s theme of Advocating, Leading and Caring, is an apt description for our Nurses who with hearts of compassion strive to maximize their resources to deliver quality healthcare to our people.
In these Virgin Islands, Nurses Week has had a glorious history commencing from 1971 with the establishment of the BVI Nurses Association. Currently led by Nurse Rupertha Ephraim, the BVI Nurses association will strive for the highest standards of nursing practice. Additionally the BVI Nurses Association will foster the educational advancement of nurses, thereby improving the economic, professional and general welfare of all nurses and providing quality patient care for the sick.
As Minister for Health and Social Development, I am extremely proud to know that nurses are accessing educational opportunities available with the courses offered through the distance learning programmes of the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus and with the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College. This means that our nurses are taking these courses to equip themselves with the knowledge and tools to maintain the health of our people. It has been said that the health of a nation is the wealth of a nation.
This year, the Association is planning an aggressive public health awareness campaign targeting members of communities and churches to address the growing prevalence of chronic non communicable diseases such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. At schools, they will address obesity which is affecting more of our young people at an alarming rate.
The goal of this campaign is to develop healthy lifestyle habits, and to outline the vital role of community clinics in this campaign. Therefore I encourage everyone to take advantage of the educational sessions which will be presented by our Nurses, and to have open dialogue regarding your health issues and developing healthy lifestyle habits.
Over the years the BVI Nurses Association has recognized some of our local doctors and nurses who have made significant contributions in the health sector. As Minister for Health, I encourage all nurses in the BVI to continue to pay special tribute to their peers, as there is no greater distinction than to be honoured by colleagues for outstanding performance.
Our Nurses have contributed not only to the development of the profession locally, but also regionally and internationally, serving as executive members of the Caribbean Nurses Organization and the International Council of Nurses.
At the Ministry of Health and Social Development and through the BVI Health Services Authority, we will continue to support and empower our Nurses with the provision of improved training opportunities. We will also ensure that Nurses continue to have an active input in the review of health legislation as we seek to strength our health policies.
To all of our Nurses, present and past, who have been on the frontline of our health sector and are vital to all of our communities, it gives me great pleasure to applaud and thank you for the invaluable services delivered to the people of these Virgin Islands.
Now, as Minister for Health and Social Development, it gives me great pleasure to declare Nurses Week 2012 open. I thank you.